The ISO 14040 and 14044 standards provide an important framework for LCA. This framework, however, leaves the individual experts, practitioners and data developers, with a range of important choices that can be individually interpreted, leading towards differences in consistency, reliability and comparability of the results of the assessment. Equally, the methodological assumptions behind the life cycle data can differ widely, so that data from different sources can be not interoperable.
The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) is an initiative developed by JRC and DG ENV since 2005, with the aim to provide guidance and standards for greater consistency and quality assurance in applying LCA. ILCD publications have been established through a series of extensive public and stakeholder consultations.
The ILCD Handbook is a major contribution to the ILCD, including a set of publications in line with international standards on LCA (ISO 14040/44):
|The General guide for Life Cycle Assessment (2010) consists of both a comprehensive, detailed guide as well as a "cook-book"-style guide for experienced LCA practitioners. It covers all aspects of conducting an LCA: defining the objective and target audience, gathering data on resource consumption and emissions that can be attributed to a specific product, calculating the contribution to impacts on the environment, checking the robustness and significance of results and conclusions, and reporting and reviewing to ensure transparency and quality.|
|The Specific guide for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data sets (2010) builds on the general guide. The guide provides more details for the generation of specific types of data. For example, it describes how to create LCI data sets that best reflect the average situation regarding emissions and resource consumption.|
|Life Cycle Impact Assessment Guide: Analysis of existing Environmental Impact Assessment methodologies for use in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) (2010). The guide provides an overview of the impact assessment methods existing in 2010, and their main features.|
|Life Cycle Impact Assessment Guide: Framework and requirements for Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) models and indicators (2010). The guide provides the list of criteria to be used in assessing the impact assessment models and indicators, in terms of scientific robustness and stakeholder acceptability.|
|Life Cycle Impact Assessment Guide: the Recommendations for Life Cycle Impact Assessment in the European context (2010) describe the indicators and models recommended for Life Cycle Impact Assessment, to be used for the ILCD methods.|
|Life Cycle Impact Assessment Guide: the Characterisation factors of the ILCD Recommended Life Cycle Impact Assessment methods (2012) supports the correct use of the characterization factors (CFs) and points out some known limitations. The CFs dataset, entailing metadata and errata-corrige, is available as a MS excel files and as ILCD formatted xml files. The complete list of CFs is available in the tool page (ILCD developer section).|
|The guide on Reviewer qualification (2010) specifies the requirements on the experiences and expertise of reviewers for life cycle inventory datasets.|
|The guide on Review Schemes for Life Cycle Assessment includes the detailed provisions on the review types required for various life cycle data and studies in the form of review schemes. It conforms to the ISO 14040 and 14044 and other related standards on LCA and its applications.|
|Nomenclature and other conventions (2010) provides the detailed provisions for nomenclature of emissions, resource, processes, units and some other conventions (e.g.flows and units classification) in support of LCA practices.|
|The JRC Reference Report (2012) is an umbrella document to provide a guidance among the documents of the ILCD Handbook. This report provides overview information on the components of the ILCD Handbook and their interrelationship, as well as supporting documents and tools.|
|The Compliance Rules and Entry Level Requirements (2012) identifies the documents/sources for the implementation of the quality, method, nomenclature, review and documentation compliance rules of the ILCD Data Network. These requirements build on those of the ILCD Handbook, simplified and with specific rules for the data network.|
|Documentation of LCA Data Sets identifies the requirements for documentation of LCA data sets under the ILCD Data Network. These requirements build on those of the ILCD Handbook, simplified and with specific rules for the data network, and ensure appropriate documentation for data set users.|
|Management of UUID and version number of data sets (2012) includes the technical provisions for assigning and managing Universally Unique Identifiers (UUID) and version numbers of ILCD-formatted data sets. It also sets conventions for the naming of file concerning LCA data sets and documented in the ILCD format (namely: Process, Flow, Flow property, Unit group, Source, Contact and LCIA method data sets).|
Additional information, guidance for data development, excel tables with characterization, normalization and weighting factors, are available in the dedicated page for LCA and data developers (here).
Process datasets in line with ILCD Entry Level recommendations are available through the data developers' nodes available here
For format aspects, related to different objects in the ILCD format structure, specific format documentation is available here